Nearsightedness medically termed myopia, is the inability to clearly see close objects. In East and South-East Asia, about 90% of school graduates have myopia. Nearsightedness seems to increase slowly in Europe and America so there are no interventions needed at the moment. Nonetheless, Chinese researchers started studying ways to prevent the appearance of myopia in their children. PhD Mingguang He, of Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China made a research in which he used children in grade 1 from 12 primary schools for 3 years, these kids were assigned 40 minutes of outdoor activities every school day. Also, scientists spoke to their parents and recommended to encourage their children to spend most of their weekends and holidays outside.
“Our study achieved an absolute difference of 9.1 percent in the incidence rate of myopia, representing a 23 percent relative reduction in incident myopia after 3 years, which was less than the anticipated reduction. However, this is clinically important because small children who develop myopia early are most likely to progress to high myopia, which increases the risk of pathological myopia.” said Dr. Mingguang He. Although the results of their study weren’t as expected, instead of preventing myopia it mostly slowed the progress of the disease.
Nonetheless, delaying the progression of myopia from a young age might still be important for the long-term health of the eye. Future studies will include information about what type of outdoor activities are more beneficial and also by continuing this study they will be monitoring the long-term effect that the 3 years of outdoor activities had on the progression of myopia.